Naguib Mahfouz' Fountain and Tomb Essay

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In the novel Fountain and Tomb by Naguib Mahfouz, the reader is thrown into a small alley in Cairo, Egypt in the 1920s. The narrator is an adult reliving his childhood through many random, interesting vignettes of his youth. We learn about many different aspects of Egyptian life from political rebellion, to arranged marriages, to religious devotion, to gang warfare. We are led to conclude that one of the major themes of the book is Truth. We come to question whether Truth is something that always needs to be known. Will the Truth ultimately do more harm than good? Is there ever a time when the Truth must be told? Are there times when it’s better for the Truth to never be known?      Truth is constantly sought out…show more content…
The story ends with the son supposedly helping his father pass away so he won’t be forced to return his fortune. This is a case where the father thought it was necessary for the Truth to come out, but where did it leave his family? So we wonder, is the Truth always the best thing to be told? Can it do more harm than good? In this case it did. Truth only brought about more pain, conflict, and trouble than if it had not been told.      When our narrator is conversing with Anwar Gilel on the fountain steps, Gilel has made an astounding realization. “I’ve just realized that I’m a student among competing students in a school which throws together students from antagonistic little lanes, in an alley in the middle of warring alleys, that I’m a creature among millions of creatures both seen and unseen on a ball of mud awhirl amid a solar system over which I have no control, that this solar system is itself lost in endless space ...” It goes on and he asks the narrator whether the sun will come up tomorrow. “I’d take bets on it,” the lad answered. Gilel ends the argument by saying, “Blessed are the ignorant, for they are happy” (Mahfouz, 115). Gilel also has realized that what people don’t know is sometimes better for them. It makes them feel better, safer, and happier. And we wonder which is more important, knowing the Truth, or knowing enough of the Truth to keep us satisfied with life and happy. In this story we notice that by

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